What is it?
Why would I buy it?
iMT tech works great with the turbo petrol engine, loaded with features
Why would I avoid it?
Not the most spacious rear bench, ride quality on the stiffer side
We have already seen the production-ready Kia Sonet in detail but what remained was the drive experience. We finally have it with us for the day and we’re going to tell you what it’s all about.
Talking about the design, frankly, I was blown away by the concept that was shown at the Auto expo. However, in comparison, I feel the production version has been watered down a little too much as I expected Kia to go a tad bolder.
But if I remove the concept image from my head, the Sonet still comes up as a good looking SUV. The front is dominated by the signature tiger nose grille and is flanked by heart shaped LED DRL’s and the crown jewel LED headlamps. You also get a turbo shaped detail on the air dam that looks really good. The mandatory front skid plate is also present, giving it an aggressive face.
Moving to the side, you get a thin cladding running across the car and what I like is that it is not overdone. The muscular wheel arches cover the 16-inch crystal cut wheels well. What you can also notice is that the colour of the roof extends down to the A-pillar, giving it a sporty touch. Also, the C–pillar has a unique design and gets a wrap-around rear-windscreen.
The rear is a little too subtle going by the standards set at the front. Adding a little drama are the heart-beat LED tail lamps and a busy bumper design, that also get the skid-plate with diffuser elements along with the faux exhaust design.
Overall, the Sonet’s design is something that will be liked by all and hated by none, but I just wish it had more elements from the concept to make it stand out.
How is it on the inside?
On the inside, you are welcomed by what Kia calls the kinetic art lounge experience. While we aren’t sure what that means, we can tell you that this is a good place to be in.
The interior colours vary depending on the variant and what we are driving here is the GT line that gets all black interiors.
Talking about the seats, they are generous and offer plenty of support. Even the view is clear and it’s one of the few cars where you can see right till the end of the bonnet.
The rear bench though isn’t as generous. Now, it is not so cramped that your knees will hit the front seats, but it is just about adequate. Even seating three abreast will be a bit of a squeeze and the Sonet is at best a comfortable four-seater.
Boot space however is one of the Sonet’s fortes and at 392 litres, it is one of the best in its segment.
Talking about features, the big attraction here is the massive 10.25-inch screen similar to the Seltos, it’s one massive housing that includes the speedometer console as well. The dashboard is well laid out but is a busy design. Another cool design touch are the vertical air-con vents, which I might add, are very effective as well.
Apart from the usual barrage of connectivity options, it also gets BT multi connection where two devices can be connected to the head unit at the same time. Taking care of audiophiles is the banging seven-speaker Bose audio system which is brilliant.
The Sonet also gets a barrage of other interesting features. You get a sunroof, wireless phone charging with cooling function, front ventilated seats, smart air purifier with virus protection (yes, you heard that right), perfume dispenser with three fragrances, UVO connected car technology with 57 features, and more.
The Sonet also get voice commands which is a fairly common feature, but in the Sonet it ends up doing a little more with its ‘Hello Kia’ voice commands. You can ask it to roll the window down, adjust the aircon, or even ask about the weather amongst other things.
Safety has been covered well in the Sonet too. You get six airbags, vehicle stability management, ESC, and ABS. It also gets an emergency stop signal where the brake lights blink rapidly under hard braking.
How does it drive?
The Sonet gets a long list of engine and powertrain options to choose from. You have a 1.0-litre turbo petrol, a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol, 1.5 litre WGT diesel, and a 1.5-litre VGT diesel.
What we are driving here is the 1.0-litre turbo with the six-speed iMT gearbox pushing out 120bhp and 172 Nm of torque.
Right off the bat, the engine feels refined and pretty energetic. Part throttle is all you need to dispatch slow moving traffic. But if you want to hurry things up, the turbo dishes out enough poke above 2000 rpm. You can feel the shove as the turbo spools up and you just need to ride on that wave of torque.
Now, this engine does not like to be revved too much and when you do, the three cylinder thrum does come into the picture. Instead, one just needs to upshift early and let that torque do all the work. Midrange in the Sonet is brilliant and that makes driving it an effortless affair. You also get drive and traction modes which are reserved for the automatic variants only.
Now coming to the iMT gearbox, this is basically a manual gearbox, minus the clutch pedal. So, you shift just like you do in a manual but there is no clutch to depress. Shift action is positive and the best way to use the iMT is to get off the gas while shifting, which makes the shift action a little smoother. And if you forget that you are driving a manual and end up being in the wrong gear, there is enough beeping to remind you to shift. Overall, the iMT technology is a revelation for those who want a manual but don’t want the pains associated with it. And according to Kia, this engine gearbox combo is fuel efficient as well, with an ARAI figure of 18.2 kmpl.
Now let’s talk about the ride and handling. The Sonet is aimed at the younger generation and for those who like to drive.
And to make it exciting to drive, the suspension is set-up slightly on the stiffer side. Even the smaller bumps can be felt and there is always an underlying stiffness around it. But even then, with 205mm of ground clearance and the 60 profile tyres you don’t really need to slow down for the bad sections and the Sonet will happily thunder through.
The steering feels good too and it has got enough weight to impose confidence at high speeds and at the same time it also makes it easy to chuck the Sonet into the gaps in the city. Overall, the Sonet might be a little stiffly sprung but it makes up for it with an entertaining drive.
Should I buy one?
The Sonet feels like an excellent product offering everything that a buyer could ask for in this segment and more. Apart from a multitude of features, you also have a long list of engine and gearbox options to choose from, which means there is a Sonet for everyone. We expect Kia to price the Sonet from 6.7 lakh onwards with the top end model breaching the 12 lakh barrier. And if so, this one seems to be another winner from Kia Motors.
Where does it fit in?
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi and Kia India
Also Read - Kia Sonet Diesel Automatic First Drive Review